The Most Common Feline Behavior Problems

There are some common kinds of adult feline behavior. Understanding and appreciating domestic cat behavior will help you when you are training your cat to be a welcome part of the family.

Clawing the Furniture

Clawing and scratching the furniture is the most common cat transgression. It's nothing personal-it has nothing to do with your taste in furniture. Cats claw and scratch because it feels good, it sharpens their claws and it identifies their territory.

Provide a sisal- or carpet-covered scratching post for your cat. There are a number of configurations available including posts, pad and ramps. You can spray or sprinkle catnip on the post to make it more attractive.

To make your furniture less attractive, use a cat repellent spray. Citrus-scented sprays smell pleasant to humans but cats will stay away. If you are concerned about spraying directly onto your furniture, spray a piece of fabric and drape or pin it over the area.

Cat furniture-carpet covered platforms and cubbies-provide exercise, entertainment and scratching opportunities and may protect your furniture.

Avoiding The Litter Box

House training cats is usually trouble-free. Avoiding the litter box may not be a behavioral problem but a medical one. Bladder infections and other urinary tract problems are the main cause of litter box avoidance.

Other signs of bladder problems include:

  • Straining or crying out while urinating;
  • Passing small amounts of urine;
  • Blood in urine.

Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you suspect that your cat has a urinary tract infection.

Spraying to Mark Territory

Spraying is different than avoiding the litter box. Spraying involves vertical surfaces-it is a marking behavior. It is usually territorial and often, it is stress related. It is more often seen in multi-cat households. Intact male cats are most likely to spray, but any cat may do it. Spaying and neutering is the first step in eliminating this behavior.

If spraying continues, there are other options:

  • Prescription anti-anxiety medications
  • Over-the-counter, calming pheromone sprays

Physical protection of sprayed area: repellents and electrostatic "scat mats" can be placed in areas of repeated spray behavior

Predatory Behavior

Predation is a common outdoor cat behavior. Cats are excellent hunters and most will not hesitate to catch and kill chipmunks, mice, birds and other small animals.

There is little that can be done to deter this behavior other than confining the cat indoors. If your cat does spend time outdoors and you find "gifts" on your porch or steps, speak to your veterinarian about regular deworming and any appropriate vaccinations that may be needed. Rodents are a common vector of parasites and diseases.

Cats are fascinating pets and require little training to become welcome members of the family. Understand their basic needs and your pet will thrive.